Monday, June 29, 2009

Why I Do 120's

Yep, it's time for another round of Bulwer-Lytton. This is why I do the 120's, an attempt to do something creative and short. Though I have to admit these are all funnier than mine.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

120: Unspoken

Honey-colored sunlight spilled into the room, dripping off every surface. The room, small, barely larger than the small glass-topped table and simple chairs that surrounded it.

She sat opposite, an entertainment magazine -- a weekly -- in one hand. Neglected nearby, a cup of coffee sat quietly steaming, its aroma filling the room. She twisted a loose strand of hair. A small vase of flowers sat atop the table, gently swayed by the ceiling fan. Underneath the table, he regarded her flower-print skirt, her long legs, crossed at the knees, her bare foot bobbing lazily. He leaned against the door frame.

She sensed him standing there, looked up and beamed. He tussled his hair as they wished each other a good morning. She indicated coffee, he declined.

Deep breath, he repeated the request from the night before. She politely demured.

He tried again. Now the magazine was on the table but the answer hadn't changed.

He suggested she hold back some body of water, using a name to God had originally bestowed on her gender. The minute it escaped his lips, he knew it shouldn't have.

He saw time cease. Foot, no longer bobbing. Finger, frozen, mid-twirl. Magazine no longer rustled by the ceiling fan. The coffee's steam hung over the mug like a small rain cloud.

After an eternity, she slowly took a breath, long, deep, inhaling every last molecule of air from the room.

Calmly, the fact was restated and coffee resuggested.

Not two, but four was the number of wheels on the vehicles they'd be shopping for that morning.

(I am once again cheating - I did not even set a timer for this one. It had been rattling around in my head since Patty asked me to write more and I began to think why I don't write more - that I'm scared of dialogue, that my writing of interactions may be as bad as my own personal experience.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Google Voice Sending Invites

Google Voice is now sending invitations to people who had put in requests.  Has anyone received theirs yet?  I've been using GV for a few years, since it was GrandCentral and I have to say that it's awesome, so I'm excited for anyone who's now getting a chance to use it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/25/99 - 9:19 a.m.

Ten years ago tomorrow.  Wow.  That's one old email.

So back in June of 1999, one of us sent the other an email.  We were still dating and who even remembers what it was about.  Well, that email has gone back and forth since then for 10 years.  There's been gaps (she had written to me in October and I didn't respond until today because it was lost in my inbox) and near losses (I made the people at Warner Bros. retrieve it from my inbox there after I got laid off).  Times like tonight the long gap meant there wasn't a lot still left to reply to, but still, we've sent the email back and forth for nearly 10 years.  (We delete the non-relevant pieces, but we've kept the last few dates of responses at the top.)

So by my count since we started that email we've gotten married, had two children, gained two cats, lost two cats, adopted and later gave up one dog, purchased two homes, lived in 5 apartments (two simultaneously before we were married), had countless jobs, owned at least three cars.  Weird.

Years ago I had planned to purchase a new computer as a gift to Lori on the anniversary of the email, but that never happened.  (Sorry, Lori, maybe next year.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All Obama, All The Time!

I laughed a few days ago when MSNBC had a headline "Does Obama get a free ride from the press?" 

But now, I have a new theory.  If a headline contains the word Obama, is forced to place it on their homepage.

Here's a sampling from right now:

Top of Page

Obama: ‘Appalled’ by Iran’s tactics (with video clip/photo)

Analysis: Obama walks fine line on Iran

Vote: Has Obama been forceful enough?

U.S. & World

Obama: World 'appalled' by Iran (Second Headline)


Obama: World 'appalled' by Iran (Top Headline)
President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared the United States and the entire world are "appalled and outraged" by Iran's violent efforts to crush dissent.

Obama presses his agenda at news conference (Second Headline)

Obama: Health care reform 'is not a luxury'

Obama girls get San Francisco cable car treat

Obama announces drug companies deal

Obama signs sweeping anti-smoking bill

Obama addresses Iran, domestic agenda (Multimedia - with photo!)

Should the GOP lay off Obama? (Multimedia)


Obama: Bernanke doing good job (Top Headline)
President Barack Obama said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing a fine job under difficult circumstances but he declined to say whether he will reappoint the chairman in January.

Honorable Mention

President faces a Kennedy decision on space (in Technology)

I'm really surprised they didn't cross-pop the health ones into the health category, the cable car one into travel.  Maybe he has an opinion on American Idol for the Entertainment category or something about Wimbledon for the sports category.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


A short burst of static burst from the speakers and snapped him back to the present.  He glanced down at the stereo, still furtively seeking yet finding no station.  There'd be no signal out here, but as soon as he got to where he'd find one, this was the easiest way to know.  He leaned towards the steering wheel to peer up towards the sky.  It was maybe noon or 1 pm.  Certainly no later than 2.  Could it be 3? He had no idea how long he'd been driving and the broken clock on the dash was absolutely no help.  The landscape to the right and left, well, there really wasn't any.  Flat, flat desert sand.  The occasional cactus.  Every so often, a dirt track would cut away to the left or the right, but he knew they wouldn't lead anywhere, to leave the road would be a one-way trip.  The road was cracked and uneven under his tires, but he pushed forward, heading north, he hoped.  At times, the dusty red sand cover the pavement, billowing around the car as he sailed through.  He hadn't seen any tracks, but even his wouldn't be visible for long, the dust settling back down after he passed in the still, windless air.  Plenty of gas in the car.   In the early morning he'd come across a deserted gas station and helped himself to gas, filling the car and the scavenged cans that filled the trunk.  But that was the last structure he'd come across.  A few hours ago, even the power lines had deserted him, veering off to the right disappearing beyond the horizon.  Since then, it had simply been him and the road.  Far in the distance, a slight ridge, and smoke beyond that. He leaned back in his seat, tapping his finger on the dash, humming to try to stay alert. He no longer remembered where this road led, but the more he drove, the further he'd be from where he'd been. 

(I cheated, this took longer then 120 seconds to write.  Any resemblance to anything you'd read is hopefully coincidental.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Inappropriately Insecure

A rather interesting phrase came up tonight in Small Group: Inappropriately Insecure.  It was used to describe someone who is so insecure that they rely on the rigidity of rules to get by.  Everything is black and white.  There's no deviation from the rules and that's the only time they feel safe.  I thought it was a rather interesting description and a great phrase.  I think I know some people like that and that I once had those tendencies.  But, especially at work, I think I am becoming more confident, more secure, more able to determine when rules should apply and when there is flexibility to choose the best course of action.  It is liberating to be secure, confident.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spheres of Influence

As I've been contemplating the best ways to a more simplified life, I realize that I need to apply some GTD principles. Doesn't hurt that I'm reading David Allen's follow-up "Making It All Work" right now, reinforcing what I know and giving me some new ideas.

At work, I have a list of about 71 items. They are projects I'm involved in, projects I'm leading, things I need to think about/research, and the people who work for me or closely with me, or whom I work for. Every day I try to advance as many of those items as possible by spending some time on them. Each time I update an item, I move it to the bottom. That way, the stuff that's not getting my attention bubbles to the top.

I've come to the realization that I need a similar list at home. I use GMail ( for email, Remember The Milk ( for tracking chores, financial stuff and random deal-with-and-delete emails, we use Wet Paint ( to track stuff about our house and we have a Google Doc ( for actual home improvement projects, but I don't have anything to tie it all together.

What I need is a master list, like I have at work.  It won't have the minutae of chores, but it may consolidate the stuff on Wet Paint and Google Docs into a central location where it can be tracked.  But I realized that currently neither actually is comprehensive.  I need a list covers all of my "spheres of influence" in my life at a high level and then dives down deeper from there.  With any luck, it will actually help me to keep more organized, be better prepared and get more accomplished, all while using the computer less.

So far, these are the spheres I've come up with.
  • Immediate Family and Non-Immediate Family
  • Home/House/Residence
  • Church and Church Friends
  • Community
  • Other Friends
  • Car
From there, it would be easy to further segment each of those areas into particular projects, areas of improvement, things and people to remain in touch with and so on and so on.

I'm excited.  I think this will really help.

I've overshot my goal of being in bed reading by a really long shot.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pace Change

We've just returned to the states and the vacation is almost over, sort of. One more day off tomorrow, then working remotely on Wednesday (probably start at Starbucks, maybe a park or something, eventually showing up at building 2 for a can't-miss meeting), then off again Thursday for my daughter's birthday and then back at work for real on Friday.

As I think back to past vacations, I remember in the late 90's going to Disneyland with friends. I remember pausing in the Indiana Jones queue, where it goes underground, holding my Blackberry aloft to get a signal to send or receive a message, and then running to catch up with my friends, being ever mindful of where the next hole in the ceiling is so that I can hope to get a signal for whatever important stuff was going on back in New York and Burbank with my team that just couldn't wait. I remember rolling into the Bahia in San Diego and racing for their business office to get an internet connection to do some work on the website that needed to be done and no one else in Pasadena knew how to do. To think of it, I'm not sure I had a real vacation-vacation since our first anniversary when we were aboard a cruise ship and had no access to anything. Even the February where I was at a conference, I spent countless hours each evening perched in front of the laptop, not to mention continually glued to the Blackberry all day during the conference.

This vacation was different. I intentionally didn't take the laptop and I forgot the Blackberry (honest!). There was 24-hour access to high speed internet, but I really limited my use (and not just because it was Internet Explorer. bleh.) I was really weird at first, waiting on a street corner, or waiting for family members making a pit stop, or walking with a fussy child outside of an establishment, not to take a peek at the Blackberry. But it was also surprising how subtle the withdrawal pangs were. I expected them to be much worse.

This vacation was awesome. Friends of ours gifted us the use of their condo for five days right on the harbor in Victoria. It was a big two-bedroom suite six floors up with gorgeous views, great cross-breezes (no A/C) in the heart of a vibrant and very walkable city.

And this trip opened my eyes to a few things. A need for change. A little more of this, a little less of that. I started making a list, and maybe I'll ultimately post it. But the first and most obvious thing is that my online presence needs to be curtailed. Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Gmail, Reader, MSNBC.... and for what?

I would like my life to be more vacation-like. And I have some definite ideas about how to accomplish that. It's going to take some work, some mental adjustment, some money, but it can be done and I will do it.

My normal life may be resuming, but I've decided to simultaneously remain on vacation.